Help! How do I turn my ideas into a goal?

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have recently produced information that tells people how they can get ready for their first NDIS plan.

They say there are 4 essential steps

  1. Learn if you might be able to access the NDIS.
  2. Think about your life now, your current informal and formal supports, and what is working and what might need to change.
  3. Identify your strengths, interests, challenges and consider your goals or what you might want to achieve.
  4. Write these things down and collect any reports, assessments or information you might find helpful for when the NDIS comes to you.

They have created a video and transcript about this, and have also confirmed elsewhere that thinking about your goals in your first plan is important.

In our work with people, however, we’ve discovered it is not always easy to do steps 2 and 3 and turn them into goals!

“Create a goal! Go on – it’s easy!”

This statement opens up an enthusiastic dialogue about how awesome goals are and why everyone going into the NDIS should go into their planning meetings equipped with goals that will change their lives for the better.

This exuberance is often fuelled by “write down your life story and everything will be hunky dory!”.  And besides, if you’ve been around disability services for long enough, you may have already told your life story to more people than you care to recall.

So. How do you turn a vague idea into a goal without opening up every corner of your life to yet another person you don’t know? Or – what is a straightforward resource that will help you to articulate the foundations of an actionable goal?

Introducing Talia

Talia, a fictional 25-year-old woman who lives with muscular dystrophy, has agreed to share her process with us. Mostly because we created her, but also because she cares about what happens to people going into the NDIS. She also said she’s happy to periodically cut our conversation off mid-stream to highlight the practical questions involved in creating a goal. So obliging!

Talia lives at home with her 18-year-old brother who is doing his final ever exams, and her Mum and Dad.

When we asked her about her goals, she paused for a moment before saying “I wish I knew. But how can I think about that when my support workers are never on time in the morning to help me get out of bed? It seems like it’s every second day that Mum has to help me instead. I’m 25 years old; I shouldn’t be this dependent on my Mum. She’s great – but yeah.”

Well these kinds of ideas are really helpful for thinking about a goal!

  • “What is missing from your life?”

In Talia’s case, she is missing reliable support staff. As a result of this, she’s also missing out on having independence from her mother.

Throughout this piece, also bear in mind that these steps can be repeated for as many life areas as you deem important.

If you are looking for some help with what life areas you could think about, the NDIS Grassroots Discussion files also has an extensive list of resources, including pieces on life domains such as personal care, community inclusion, social/community support and employment support; as do WA’s Individualised Services (WAiS).

  • “What would you like to change?”

Without going all Louise Hay on you, the answers to “What is missing?” need to be flipped to the positive. This is because goals literally can’t be created from what we *don’t* want – only from what we do want.

During this part of our conversation, Talia worked out that she wants reliable support staff and independence not only from her mother, but also from her family in general, who all provide her with a lot of support. And, although her family are close-knit, she just wanted the opportunity to be a daughter and sister instead.

These are the kinds of statements that can be worked with until they become less of a “wish list” and more of a “goal statement/s.” (Pardon the jargon!)

Talia had some difficulty with this next stage because, up until the NDIS, she’d had no choice but to become resigned to the status quo. How do you turn such experience and discontent into a goal statement?

  • “What is stopping the missing things from happening?”

Talia said that the employees of her service provider were stopping her from receiving adequate personal care support, which was having a negative flow-on effect to her having independence from her Mum and family.

This conversation lead her nicely into the final step:

  • “What would make a difference?”

Talia was stoked when it dawned on her that, with the NDIS, she could change service providers – or indeed, manage her own funds and hire her own support staff. She could even consider building her own team as a solution. She decided to ask for some mentoring assistance to learn how to properly manage and supervise support workers. And she wanted to learn from someone who was experienced in managing their own staff. She also decided to ask for a experienced person to review and create a recruitment process.

Her goal statement became:

“I want to live my life with maximum freedom, choice and enjoyment. An important part of this is having more reliable staff. I would like as little staff turn over as possible. I would like staff to turn up when I expect them to.”

So that was the beginning of Talia’s process.

Other people come at goal-setting from different angles; some are clearer on what they do want, which means they don’t have to spend as much (if any) time on Step 1. If you know what you want, you would just start from Step 3 – “What is stopping the missing things from happening?”.

And that, in a nutshell, is how to turn ideas into a goal.

To check out more resources about becoming #NDISReady as well as support for families and carers, have a browse of the NDIS Ready page (which has the nuts and bolts of what the NDIS provides for people with disability, families and carers).


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